INTERVIEW: ZUBAIR MOTIWALA, ADVISER TO CHIEF MINISTER SINDH ON INVESTMENT
THE PROVINCE IS ON ITS WAY TO BECOME ECONOMIC POWER IN THE REGION.
Oct 3 - 9, 2011
Being the second largest province of Pakistan, Sindh plays a pivotal role in the national development agenda. Karachi, having three seaports accounting for 90 per cent of the country's international trade, is the capital of the province and has a privilege to be financial capital of the country.
Sindh contributes over 68 percent of the total revenue to the national pool of resources. Sindh comprises of 23.7 percent of the total population with highest concentration of urban population of 49 percent as compared to an overall country average of 32.5 percent making the province of Sindh as the most urbanized part of the federation.
Highlighting the economic significance of the province, Muhammad Zubair Motiwala, Advisor to Chief Minister of Sindh on investment and the vice chairman of Sindh Board of Investment quoted the World Bank which has recently ranked Sindh as the second best place for doing business in the region.
It is the most resilient and attractive investment destination for international and local investors. Mr. Zubair was of the view that despite facing energy crisis primarily due to lethargic policies of the governments in the past, Sindh is very much on its way to become the powerhouse of the region because of incoming international investments in the alternative energy sector. A $3 billion investment by a Chinese company in coal powered power generation at the Thar coalfield is to be materialized.
The company enjoying an international reputation in the energy sector has the credit of building the largest dam or water reservoir in China.
There is a misconception about the quality of Thar coal in the international market. However, after the certification by an international renowned body, it has been established that Thar lignite is best for using it as fuel for power generation. He said that lignite should not be compared with black coal, which comparatively carries high value of Btu, but all over the world wherever the power is generated from coal lignite and not black coal is used.
It has now been international certified that the lignite at Thar is the best lignite available anywhere in the world. It is better than the coal available in Germany and United Kingdom, he clarified.
Some people with vested interest are creating misperception about Thar coal deposits, he regretted. When the quality of Thar coal was evaluated internationally, we advertised it in 26 newspapers all around the world and investment offers started pouring in.
One of the biggest investors selected after due diligence was Global Mining Company which would be using Thar coal for power generation as well. We have already signed an agreement with the company that planned $3 billion project at Thar coalfield. This project is coming up at a faster pace and would be online before April next year, he disclosed.
If things move according to the plans, the time is not much away when Sindh would not only be able to cater to the energy needs of the country but also in a position to export power to the neighboring countries.
EDUCATION CITY-A MULTIBILLION DOLLAR PROJECT
Discussing about development activities in other areas, he said that one of the most prestigious project is the education city coming up in the peripheral area of Port Qasim for which a 9000 acres of land has been allocated.
This education city, he said, is going to attract multibillion dollar projects and would be a crown on educational landscape.
So far, the stakeholders in this prime projects include Judicial Academy, Aga Khan University, Newports Institute of Communications & Economics, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science & Technology, Sindh Institute of Urology & Transplantation, Barrett Hodgson - Salim Habib Foundation, Sindh Madressa Board's Quaid-e-Azam Public School, Sir Syed University of Engineering & Technology, Ziauddin University, and Habib Foundation
IT & MEDIA CITY.
The city of education is expected to revolutionize the higher education by serving the growth of knowledge based economy and would capture the world market as well.
The project would be managed by an independent authority, which will oversee the overall management and development of education city. In this regard, the process of release of funds and appointment of consultants for establishing the city has already been started.
INTERNATIONAL SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE
The Government of Sindh has earmarked another 2000 acres of land for International Special Economic Zone, near Port Qasim industrial area, only 50 Kms from Karachi Airport.
It is an ideal destination for businesses relocating from Japan and other countries with availability of affordable labor, skilled work force, and state of the art infrastructure.
International Special Economic Zone (ISEZ) will include an Expatriate Enclave with modern infrastructure and tax incentive package such as exemption of custom duties and taxes strictly on import of capital equipments.
Sindh Board of Investment will act as one window facilitator for the project and the federal government/utility agencies will provide gas, electricity and other utilities at the zero point of the zone.
Captive power generation will also be allowed to developers of the zone. The federal and the provincial governments are engaged with Japanese government to finalize arrangements for the infrastructure development of the zone.
Keeping in view the success of economic zones and industrial estates in developing specific sectors, both in the developed and newly industrialized countries, it has been decided to develop the same strategy to uplift the marble and granite sector in Sindh. The Marble City project shall have tremendous investment and growth potential for entrepreneurs being based on high-end technology, innovation, and services. The concept is based on an innovative stone technology, custom facilities and state of the art services combined to create largest and most technologically advanced industrial park for dimension stone (marble & granite) in Karachi.
FISHERIES SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE
Sindh is blessed with 352kms coastline making it ideal for shrimp, crab, and fish farming. The land for developing Fisheries Special Economic Zone measuring 20,000 acres has already been identified in district Thatta. The Sindh Board of Investment in collaboration with Sindh fisheries department would undertake the project.
The project is envisioned to be run by zone development company with foreign technical assistance. The company will oversee the infrastructure, operation and maintenance of the project. SBI will create mechanism for investment facilitation and subsidized financing for the investors in the zone, which will include financing of 100 fish farms, of 25 hectares each, to be managed jointly by private investors with international experts for two years.
The cost of individual farm will initially be financed for five years. In the first phase, SBI will finance development of 20 farms and would undertake second phase on successful implementation of the first phase.
LIVESTOCK SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE
There is a great potential in the livestock sector of Sindh which if properly managed can upgrade the socioeconomic condition of the rural Sindh and provide livelihood to millions of poor inhabitants of rural Sindh.
The land for developing livestock special economic zone measuring 2,500 acres has already identified near Bhambore by Livestock Department, Government of Sindh.
Sindh Board of Investment in collaboration with Livestock Department would undertake the investment part of the project. The project is envisioned to be run through international assistance by developing extension and common processing facilities.
The project offers attractive modes of financing through the creation of revolving fund. SBI through this scheme will initially develop one model farm to present the viability of the project and invite private sector to participate in the development of the other farms for which government would provide interest free financing up to 60 per cent of the project cost to be paid by the private parties in four to five years term after the operation of the farm.
DATE PROCESSING PROJECT AT KHAIRPUR
Pakistan is one of the largest and the finest producer of dates yet we have not been able to capitalize on this precious resource due to lack of knowledge and lack of concentration in this area.
Zubair said that so far the largest importer of dates is India but in the form "Chohara" (dry dates). It is unfortunate that trade of dates with India is carried out through illegal channels or smuggling which means that government is getting a little on that account. The Indian traders used to press the farmers to reap the crop of date before maturity because immature dates could only be converted into Choharas.
The Indian traders pursue the date farmers to pluck the fruit from the trees before the arrival of monsoon as rainwater damages the fruit.
Zubair disclosed that recently we have found the way out to protect the dates from rainwater as the bunch of dates are covered with a especially manufactured sack which breathes fresh air for the dates but does not allow the rain moister to reach the fruits. An international test of Pakistani date has confirmed that it is the best for confectionary and international buyers are now willing to buy Pakistani dates, which are also a great achievement and would be a great source to promote rural economy, he remarked.
Recently, Pakistan Horticulture Development Company (PHDEC) and Agriculture Department Government of Sindh have been signed on July 30, 2010 for the Dates Processing Plant Project at District Khairpur.
The project is proposed to be offered as Public Private Partnership (PPP) venture to the private sector. The project will have a capacity to process 3000 to 3500 million tons of dates annually estimated to require a capital input of Rs91.37 million.
The planning and execution of the project will be done jointly by the parties with the selected private partner, whereas the operations will be under the management of selected private sector partner.